There’s nowhere quite like the English countryside with its rolling hills and breath-taking vistas. Voted as the seventh most beautiful country in the world by Rough Guide readers, England’s landscapes are more varied than you might first imagine. Yes, there are miles upon miles of luscious green fields, but there are also dramatic mountains, rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, atmospheric moors and dense forests, all waiting to be explored.
You might not come to England for its wildlife, but if you take the time to explore the countryside you will be delighted by the variety of animals and birds that inhabit its woods, mountains, meadows and coast. Dolphins, seals and even whales can be spotted all around the coastline of England at certain times of year, the forests are home to squirrels, deer, foxes and badgers, otters swim in rivers, and puffins nest on the cliffs.
You might think that all of the interesting things to discover about the rich history of England can be viewed in its cities, particularly by visiting museums, churches and old buildings. The countryside may appear in places to be wild and untouched, but there is a deep and interesting history to unearth everywhere in rural England. Take the time to learn why the Peak District was deforested, how the Norfolk broads originated and where the old Roman roads lie.
From the Peak District to the Cotswolds, the English countryside is dotted with lovely little villages that are a pleasure to visit. Yes, there’s more to do and see in the cities, but wandering around a small village in the countryside is a completely different experience. There are independent shops, cute little cafés and traditional pubs to visit, and plenty of photo opportunities as you wander around. Many towns are famed for their local delicacies, such as Grasmere gingerbread and Bakewell pudding, and visitors should make sure that they try as many of these local dishes as possible.
If you love being outdoors and hiking in the wilderness, there’s no better base than the English countryside. There are countless walking trails all around the country, including easy paths across fields, more challenging treks up to the highest peaks, and coastal paths that snake up cliffs and down to beaches. Whether you’re setting off on a gentle ramble or a two-week hike, England’s rural footpaths offer some of the best walking routes in the world.
You can’t beat a traditional English country pub on a cold winter’s day after a long walk. Settle down by the fire with a warming meal and a cold pint of local ale and soak up the ambiance as you relax. Most pubs in the English countryside have beamed ceilings, open fires and traditional décor, offering a cosy place to spend the afternoon. You’ll find at least one in every village with many more scattered in rural locations, by the side of the road or along well-trodden walking paths.
And finally, you can’t discount the benefits of breathing in a little fresh air. Once you’ve spent too much time in a big city such as London, retreating to the countryside for a couple of days will do wonders for your health, if nothing else. Spend as much time outdoors as the weather permits and soak up that clean air.